Kid Rock has been “talking about wanting to do something big in Detroit” for many years. This weekend, he brings it to fruition with a pair of shows, and more, at Comerica Park.
Then again, it’s not like the Clarkston resident has skimped on major events in the Detroit area. From charitable works — including a 2004 donation to establish a Spray Park in Independence Township — to multi-night stands at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, the Palace of Auburn Hills and Joe Louis Arena, the multi-platinum rocker has been a ubiquitous presence in his hometown, flying the Old English D louder and prouder than any of his forebears or peers.
So a stadium-sized celebration is hardly out of character — just, in Rock’s mind, overdue.
“We finally had enough time to pre-plan it and lock the dates and really get everything in place that needs to be done,” says Rock, 38, (real name Bob Ritchie), whose shows will cap day-long, block party-style activities that include classic car shows, chili cook-offs, motocross exhibitions and a second stage outside featuring local bands.
“I really kind of picture it as like a big (baseball) opening day weekend, just some great music and have some fun and get everyone in downtown Detroit to hang out and patronize all
the places around
there. There’s so many people going through so many hard times here; hopefully everybody can just kind of put that aside for a couple days, a night or whatever, and celebrate all the good things about our town.” Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band, meanwhile, plan to do their part with “some fun production stuff to really make it special.” Suffice to say things will surely explode, and the group also needed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clearance for some of its staging. “It’s a helluva production out here — from bombs to lights to cameras,” notes Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which has been touring with Rock this summer and will open tonight’s concert. “Bobby is ... an incredible showman.” Rock, who also makes a cameo in the video for the Zac Brown Band’s latest single, “Toes,” says that this summer’s show is in some ways a reaction to his 2008 tour in support of the triple-platinum “Rock N Roll Jesus” album and its Top 30 hit “All Summer Long,” which won a CMT Music Award last month. “Last year was just about me going on the road with nothing,” he explains. “We had no production and it worked out great ’cause it really made us focus on the music. And now is the time I really think I can start to bring some of that (production) stuff back.” Rock is also using the Comerica gigs as the “unofficial launch” for his American Badass Beer, which will be available for the first time publicly during the shows. He promises a “simple” beer with “no aftertaste ... It’s not some premium (beer). It’s cold. It’s refreshing. It gives you a good buzz. That’s it.” He hopes to have it in stores and bars later this year, perhaps before the end of the summer.
Fans will likely have to wait for 2010, however, for the next Kid Rock album. Though he was on track to release something this fall — possibly including songs he recorded with rappers Lil Wayne and T.I. — Rock decided to shift gears and work with Grammy Awardwinning producer Rick Rubin. “Right now we’re just looking at where the record is and what’s gonna round out the record,” says Rock, who has 18-20 songs he considers ready. “I think we’ve got everything; it’s just a matter of zeroing in on it now.
“We won’t release anything until we both agree that every song on it is great.”
Rock has a recording rig on the road with him to work on material, and he and Rubin plan to convene as the summer tour winds down. Meanwhile, Rock and his band will keep working on the new songs and may even pull some out in front of the live audiences.
“We’re playing them all in sound check and screwing around with them every day,” he says. “If nothing else, at least when we go into the studio, we’ll have a feel for playing these songs live.
“It’s hard to follow big records with another big record. I thought (‘Rock N Roll Jesus’) was the best record I’ve ever made, and now I want to do one that’s ... better. So I’m open to anything.”
If you go
Kid Rock’s Block Party takes place Friday and Saturday (July 17-18) at Comerica Park, 2100 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Activities outside the stadium begin at 2 p.m. each day, and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Lynyrd Skynyrd and Robert Randolph & the Family Band open tonight’s concert; Alice in Chains and Cypress Hill open on Saturday. Some tickets, at $49.50 and $69.50, remain for Saturday’s show, while VIP packages are available for both nights. Call (313) 471-2000 or visit www.kidrock.com.
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